So you think bureaucratic red tape is annoying here in the good old U S of A? Try getting something official paperwork done on the other side of the world.
Case in point: an appointment for a medical examination for a foreign visa in Bangladesh.
True story: at the embassy of the foreign country, I was told, “You have to have a medical certificate before we can issue a visa.”
Pause. No other information was forthcoming apparently.
“Okay,” I said, “where can I get the certificate?”
Bored clerk hands me a list of recognized clinics.
Then I go to the clinic nearest my hotel.
“You have to have an appointment paper from the embassy,” I’m told curtly as though my mental facilities were slightly less than those of a turnip.
Back at the embassy: “Where do I get the appointment paper?” I asked through gritted teeth.
Clerk hands me a slip with the address of the office that handles medical appointments. So, I go there, right?
“We need a copy of your visa application,” this clerk informs me after I have filled out an application for a medical certificate.
“And,” he went on, “we need three copies of this application.”
There’s a photocopy machine at his elbow.
“Can you make copies for me?” I asked.
“No.” Dead silence.
Fortunately (for me, if not for the officious clerk behind the glass) I was accompanied by a Bangladeshi who just happened to know where to go and get copies made. When we returned with the copies, the clerk glanced at them and said, “Come back tomorrow.”
Now this office is several miles from my hotel and traffic in Dhaka stretches any fifteen minute trip into an hour or better. Carefully controlling my voice (I think) I replied, “We’re here now. It’s a long way from my hotel. All I need is a paper to get me in to see the doctor tomorrow.”
The clerk looked at me as though I had just asked him to loan me his new Mercedes (if any clerk in Bangladesh could possibly afford such a luxury). But he disappeared from the window a moment and told me to go around to the back. When I was ushered in, the officer I needed to see was having a cup of tea and there wasn’t a single piece of paper on his desk.
After I had the mandatory tea, he scribbled a few words on the application and said, “That’s done. Come back tomorrow and get your appointment slip.”
Give it up. I “came back tomorrow” and, sure enough, the appointment slip was ready. Now, taxi driver, rush me over to the clinic. I went in and presented the slip to the receptionist who handed it back saying, “We need three copies of this.” Ha! I was ahead of him, I just happened to have three copies already.
“Here,” I said, “now can I see the doctor?”
“Come back tomorrow,” he said.